DUBAI: Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has held a remote video workshop for school bus operators in Dubai. The educative event attended by 120 representatives from schools and schools’ bus operators focused on the precautionary measure to be taken to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic among students as the new school year 2020-2021 edges closer. More than 153k students from private schools and 21k students from public schools in Dubai use school buses, which reached 6,732 buses in the Emirate.
“In its regulatory role over the school transport sector activity in Dubai, RTA’s Public Transport Agency is committed to making every effort to safeguard the safety of students during their mobility to and from schools. The holding of this workshop echoes our leaders’ directives to implement comprehensive precautionary measures to cope with the outbreak of Covid-19 across all sectors, the school transport sector included,” said Adel Shakri, Director of Planning and Business Development, Public Transport Agency, RTA.
“We held this remote video workshop for school bus operators to explain the measures ought to be observed and adopted for the safety of students. Measures set include the number of students on board must not exceed 50% of the bus capacity, the daily screening of temperature of all staff involved, screening the temperature of students before boarding the bus, full sanitisation of the bus before use, and the provision of personal protective equipment for staffs and students. Measures also include affixing awareness posters on the exterior and interior of the bus, marking the seats clearly to ensure the physical distancing, setting a course of action towards students suspected of Covid-19 symptoms, and providing training and education for the staffs involved in the school transport activity,” explained Shakri.
Additionally some best practices are provided such as female attendants supporting students on buses shall try their best to avoid touching students or their belongings. Masks for students are mandated for the ages as specified by the KHDA and DHA protocols. In case there are common RFID card readers on the buses for staff or students, an alternative mechanism shall be devised in order to avoid a common touch point. Students from same family (siblings) may be allowed to sit together. Bus seating arrangement should be clearly marked and easy to understand for students so that the same students are seated in the same seats every day for regular bus routes.
All passengers and drivers should perform hand hygiene before and after being on the bus. As per routine school bus protocols, students should remain seated in their own seats and should not move around the bus. School Bus Operators shall ensure there is enhanced cleaning of seats and other high-contact surfaces (e.g., windows, railings) before each new group of students attends the bus. Bus pick-up and drop-off of students at the school should be staggered where possible, to avoid crowding at the school entrance.
Moreover, it is better that bus has a sufficient fresh air circulation after every trip as and when possible. Regardless of seating arrangement needs, Bus Operators shall ensure that up-to-date lists of bus riders and drivers are maintained to enable contact tracing if required. Parents shall be advised to self-report all positive cases and suspected cases at the earliest possible. Subject to the Dubai Health Authority guidance and risk review of COVID-19, measures for physical distancing may be reviewed during the school year.
“A Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is to be submitted electronically to RTA as one-time exercise and in case there are any major gaps, RTA Team will contact the concerned School Bus Operator / School for corrective actions immediately. RTA will take measures against parties that fail to comply with the applicable precautionary measures as part of its responsibility to protect students from potential hazards of the pandemic. The vitality of such measures is underlined by the sheer volume of the service which warrants a commitment towards taking proactive steps to protect students against the spread of Covid-19,” he concluded.
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